Be it privatizing the Veterans Administration, railing against “socialized medicine,” gutting the Environmental Protection Agency, or trying to starve public education, the proponents of these ideas all seem to be beholden to the work of Ayn Rand.
Rand’s novel, The Fountainhead, was published 75 years ago this month, after being turned down by 12 publishers. Yet for people like Paul Ryan, Stephen Miller, Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Peter Thiel, it might as well have been a briefing paper published this morning.
Even though Bill Buckley kicked Rand out of the conservative movement in the late 1950s, at a 2005 gathering to honor her memory, Paul Ryan declared, “The reason I got involved in public service, by and large, if I had to credit one thinker, one person, it would be Ayn Rand.”
Yaron Brook, the president and executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, and Jeff Schechtman’s guest on this week’s WhoWhatWhy podcast, thinks that The Fountainhead is the classic American novel and that Rand’s ideas are at the core of American and Western civilization.
Opposition to her is just as contemporary, as people like Robert Reich and Paul Krugman devote significant efforts to trying to discredit her.
In his conversation with Schechtman, Brook talks about Silicon Valley and how, in his view, it’s wrong for leaders and inventors to share credit. He argues that they need not apologize or share their success, but instead bask shamelessly in their accomplishments.
He criticizes Bill Gates for focusing on philanthropy and giving his money away, when he could still be doing more to achieve greater success and make more money.
Originally published in 1943, The Fountainhead, Brook claims, was intended not as a political manifesto, but to put forward a way of seeing the world devoid of what he says is today’s tribalism and groupthink.